Henry David Thoreau said “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I suspect most of us have heard that bit of wisdom, but that is not the end of Thoreau’s thought. The full quote is “Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk this life with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.” I was inspired by the full quote to reflect on a gospel several Sundays ago. It is the bane of our modern existence that there seems to be so much to do and so little time to it all. But then, you are never going to do it all, but what you do – is it aligned with God’s desire for you and are you willing to commit to see it through to its good and fruitful end? “But I don’t have time!” comes the reply. Certainly, far less elegant than Thoreau, but I did run across another quote that gave me a chuckle. “‘But I don’t have time’ is the adult equivalent of ‘the dog ate my homework.’ ” We are called to be careful about how we fill up our lives with commitments.
Next weekend we will celebrate Commitment Sunday. It is a simple ceremony celebrated during regular Masses. All parishioners are invited to prepare a written commitment to bring forward and place in an offering basket and receive a blessing from one of the friars. The idea is to take a moment in time when each of us was asked to make a commitment to someone, to something, to an idea, to an action, to something—and to place that before the altar of God, asking God’s blessings for the commitment and the perseverance to follow through. Praying for perseverance is certainly a key element lest our commitments share a common destiny with New Year’s resolutions – only 8 percent of us keep our resolutions. What was your commitment from last year?
I suspect most of us pause a bit as we try to remember, which might tell us something about our perseverance and human nature. I can’t help you recall your specific commitment, but I can share with you the types of commitments people made last year. The top categories of commitment were (in no particular order): pray more, join a parish ministry, be the best parent, become more involved in outreach to the poor, study the Bible, learn patience, and spend more quiet time with God.
This year we have changed the commitment form just a bit. It is a “double form” – one for you to bring to the Mass and the other to stick on your refrigerator door.
We also have another aid. Our website has a simple, six-step process to help you in your discernment to living out the deepest meaning of faith, gratitude and belonging, so that we are intentional about our commitments and fill up with holy and true things. “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) Now we are called to be intentional about our next steps.
We are asking people to discern where God is calling them to serve Him: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The weekend of Nov. 4th and 5th we will ask for commitment. We would especially ask you to consider parish ministry – and not just the one already in place, but perhaps God is calling you to start a new ministry. That is how our Foster Children Ministry got started. One person answered God’s call to turn a passion into ministry.
But “whatever you do” make it for the greater glory of God. Some of you are committed as a coach for your child’s basketball or soccer team, leading a troop of Girl Scout Brownies or Cub Scouts, or serving at a local charity. How will you, in word and deed, intentionally give glory to God in all these things? The same question applies when considering your service as a Lector at Mass, feeding the homeless, or coming to Bible Study. It is the question we should all ask ourselves at the start of each day.